Where Garden Gnomes Lie in Wait

On our first morning at Crystal Cove, unable to find the elusive pressure valve, I declared to Flight I needed some alone time and meandered down the hill to carve out some solitude along the Moro (and sometimes Morro) Canyon trails.

It was a brisk start to the day, meaning my breath was swirling about me in the valley the sun had yet to broach. I hoped I would be warm enough as I stretched my legs and mind. Before I even got to the trail head I saw these sweet creatures making their breakfast of what looked like the remnants of an airport Starbucks fruit cup offering.  Without the cup.

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Pausing momentarily to take a few “aw, fer cute…” pictures of the bunnies, I picked up my pace again as I entertained a series of Madagascar-worthy circle-of-life images pop into my head and wondered whose dinner they might soon become.

I find that hiking tends to give my thoughts the freedom and space to move about until they can settle into more orderly groupings so I might make sense of them. I once saw a card that said, “As she washed the dishes, she watched her thoughts dash out into the yard and up the tree.  From there they almost made sense.” That’s about right.


As I lengthened my stride and noted there was no cell coverage in this particular valley, I heard the stirrings of the valley floor entirely unfazed by the echoes of my invasion. More circle-of-life images dashed through my transom and I briefly wondered which cousin of Shere Kahn (or maybe a wayward garden gnome) might be stealthily stalking me through the underbrush and would be responsible for my  demise.  Moments later my brooding returned to unpacking Keeper’s attitude towards roadschooling.

“I just can’t take it seriously,” he maintains.

Well, that’s not going to work for anybody involved, so how can we shift his paradigm?  Now that we’ve been at it for a couple of months, we are likely due for a review of his experience to date and further discussion of roadschooling’s context, both of which would be very beneficial.  Ever since I have known Keeper, he has been unwilling to apply himself to any task he sees as without purpose or value.  Context is critical for him. Unfortunately (?), Keeper comes by that trait honestly, as I, too, have little patience for performing checks in seemingly unnecessary boxes to turn spreadsheet values from red to green. But I digress…

The scaffold of our next discussion with Keeper on roadschooling was taking better shape with each step, and I was eager to bounce my thoughts off of Flight so we could then further streamline the concepts and strategize on our briefing techniques. I finally captured our collective thoughts in a later roadschooling update here, which Keeper and I discussed later that afternoon.

Satisfied I had harvested all I might from my mental gymnastics, I turned around to retrace my path and caught sight of these:

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Clearly squash of some variety…  Zucchinielons? Pumpkini? No idea what they are exactly, but I wondered if these, along side any upended fruit cups, were what sustained the valley’s robust rabbit (and possibly garden gnome) population.

I returned to camp to find Flight and the kids tidying up from brekkie. We then fleshed out our plans for the rest of the day. Beach, beach, and more beach.  Hopefully, I was praying, that did not include a repeat performance of yesterday’s swimming with sharks. Actually, Flight was keen to recreate some childhood memories, so we piled into the car to head to the beach just north of where we’d been yesterday.

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Our late morning evolved into a Marine Biology lab as the kids explored the exposed tide pools, this time very mindful of expected behavior:


And when I say kids, I mean Flight was the Head Boy in charge of the exploration.

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Very much a tactile learner (unless it includes holding anything that crawls, slithers, walks sideways, or resides in the ocean), my inner 5-year old was thrilled to find copious bunches of what Firebolt aptly named, “Nature’s Bubble Wrap.”

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These little kelp pods erupt violently under the weight of a human, producing the most delightfully satisfying pops.  Ever mindful of the posted good tidepooler’s guidance, I followed at the rear, snapping pictures as they presented themselves, and enthusiastically jumped on any haphazard collections of “bubble wrap” in our path.  In my defense, I figured these collections were adrift and far away from their roots, thus they were no longer living and certainly not the plants the rules had referenced.  And, I did leave them in situ once they’d been ruptured…

The waves steadily picked up throughout our morning’s science lessons and, while the topography of this particular beach made for great tide pooling, it was considerably less inviting for frolicking in the waves, so we opted to return to the beach of yesterday’s USO sighting.

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We turned to sandcastle operations since the waves were too high to safely enjoy. As WoodSprite and Firebolt became too engrossed in their construction efforts, they turned their backs on the ocean. Bad idea jeans. Actually, they became bad idea shorts and underwear, as our girls were surprised to find themselves soaked to the skin from the waist down in the wake of a retreating wave. However, a testament to their positive attitudes, they took the ocean’s, ahem, bum-rush all in stride.


We returned to Davista to wash sand and salt water from places most uncomfortable before feasting on more InstantPot goodness.  The sunset was a lovely treat as we thought about our upcoming surfing adventures in San Elijo…

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